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Mali - Cooking and Food Edit

Malian Cuisine HistoryEdit

Mali has always been known as the location of the Mali Empire and Timbuktu, the fabled city of learning. Timbuktu became a real center of the trans-Siberian trade due to trade in gold and salt which have taken place here. Starting with the 12th century, West African scholars gathered at the Sankore mosque to study the Koran, law, literature, and history. Timbuktu, like many other important Malian cities, is along the Niger River, which represents a thoroughfare for commerce and travelers. Malians also contributed to the culture and development of the United States of America.

Malian cuisine is generally based on corn, millet, and rice porridges which can be served with a wide variety of sauces. The most famous sauces are those of ground peanuts, baobab leaves, sweet potato leaves, and okra. However, a large variety of meats and vegetables can be prepared with these sauces and served with rice, couscous, or porridge. Malian cuisine is also rich in proteins like Lamb, Beef, fresh or smoked fish, or Chicken. The most common Malian vegetables are tomatoes, onions, Eggplant, plantain and yams. As far as fruits are concerned, Malian people hi love lemons, bananas, mangoes, and watermelon. Poulet yassa and foutou are some of the most popular Western African dishes.

Cuisines of Mali Edit

Map of Mali

Map of Mali- Click to enlarge

Malian cuisine has always been ruled by women. At least all meals in Mali are prepared by women. As a general rule, food is eaten with the right hand because eating with the left hand is thought to be highly improper among Muslim nation. Usually, almost every meal is finished with strong and sweet tea. Like in many other countries, Malian tea service has become a highly ritualised affair. Generally, three rounds are served: the first for life, the second for love, and the third for death. Malian people have always been interested in finding the places where their ingredients came from, in choosing each ingredient, in buying them as long as they are fresh, and in how all these ingredients are used or prepared. Most of the high quality products contain more flavour which can be found in fine chocolate, home-grown tomatoes, and prime-grade Beef. High quality ingredients are extremely important in recipes that are simple and direct. The most famous tomatoes salad is called insalata caprese which consists of mozzarella and basil drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with black pepper. The majority of West African foods are built first on a base of starches, either rice or fufu; rice dishes vary from the plain, boiled white variety to the ubiquitous jollof rice found throughout all of West Africa. The most used spices are cinnamon, thyme, saffron, and cayenne. Fufu is made from cassava root, rice or plantains, and yams.

Preparation Methods for Malian Cooking Edit

All the communities have adopted rice as the staple food. Usually, the midday meal is rice and curry and for such a meal, everything is put on the table at once: fish, rice, meat curries, soup, and vegetables. Desserts are unknown except on different festive occasions. Another essential aspect is the fact that almost every meal ends with mangoes, pawpaws, bananas, mangosteens, rambutan, avocados, and watermelon. Every meal has to contain curries, which are always classified in accordance with the type of spicing, or the method of cooking; they can be red, white, or black. Red curries are based on few spices and a large amount of chili powder or ground chilies. White curries contain coconut milk and there is no doubt that they are usually mild and have a lot of liquid. Finally, black curries proved to be the most mypical in Mali; their dark colour is given by the coriander, fennel and cumin.

Special Equipment for Malian Cooking Edit

In Africa, there are not so many persons who use special equipment in the process of preparing different delicious dishes. This is mainly because they do not use complicated methods in order to cook or prepare a special kind of food. Everything is as natural as it can be, especially because Malian cuisine is dominated by a lot of fruits and vegetables. Nevertheless, there are some influences, but it seems that Malian people really care about their traditions.

Malian Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

In West Africa, holiday and festival practices have been influenced by many different cultures. The original tribal cultures and how they used the land have the most significant impact, but many influences stem from European settlers as well as Islam. Unlike India, where most of the holidays have some Hindu origin, Africa’s holidays are generally Muslim. In North Africa, a Moroccan stew or tangine is made for the Muslim feast of Aid el Kebir or Slaughter of the Lamb. During holidays, families slaughter a Lamb and donate some of its meat to the needy, as well as, give charity in general. Mrouzia tangine is made from raisins, almonds, honey and spices. What is most notable about this dish is that the sweetness and spice preserves Lamb for a month when many families will find themselves with a large amount of Lamb.A typical dish served at almost every feast is Skudahkaris, a Lamb and rice dish.

People in Malian Food Edit

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Another important rule in Malian cuisine is that which says that men do not cook. This is available especially for men from prominent families. There is no doubt that even in this situation there are some exceptions, one of the reason being the fact that is has always been said that men cook the most delicious meals. Some of these dishes are thiebu djen, a stewed Whitefish usually eaten for lunch; basmati rice, and Halibut steak stewed in a fragrant, salty tomato sauce and served together with carrots, Eggplant, cabbage, and cassava; thiebu djeninto; fish balls made of salmon and Halibut. An authentic Malian dish is a stunningly simple combination of jasmine rice, carrots, sweet potatoes, and yam doused with Peanut sauce; yassa au poulet, a half-Chicken stuffed and baked with a tangy onion-mustard sauce; grilled Lamb; « special sauce » which consists of a combination of Onion, peppers, ginger, and salt and it could also include green olives; salad of field greens; akra, which is served with tomato-shrimp sauce. Malian people tend to prepare a lot of dishes using a great variety of fruits and vegetables, and this means that they consume lots of vitamins, avoiding thus toxic ingredients which, in time, have became popular all over the world. This may also be understood as a real symbol of respect for the traditional cuisine and for the real values.

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